Are You Sleeping With Your Co-Workers?
Sounds like a crazy question, but conflict with co-workers often have a way of creeping into other aspects of our personal and professional lives. We think about the conflicts while we’re on the job, stuck in traffic and resting at home, and the next thing you know, the disruptive conversations in our minds are playing out in the shower, in the bedroom, and in the most private places of our lives. How do we stop taking our coworkers into the shower and into bed in our minds?
I’m going to give you three tips, and some theory.
The nature of conflict is that it percolates inside us like a hot drink. It gets stronger and stronger the more it percolates, and we get more heated, agitated and aggravated as we continue to focus on the problem. We think about co-workers as villains, we feel victimized, and soon enough we’re caught in a whirlwind of thoughts that steal our precious time away from more productive and peaceful thinking.
Tip #1: It’s important to be aware when we find ourselves needlessly spending energy in such a whirlwind of problems and challenges.
Employees spend, on average, 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict. That’s $359 billion dollars of hours paid, or 385 million working days lost. Conflict is popular.
There’s a huge personal cost for conflict as well, including sleepless hours, stress, and not being present for the tasks and relationships that we enjoy most. So there are actually two conflicts at play: one related to workplace issues, and another related to our own inner struggle with the conflict.
I love the teaching of an old Cherokee legend that speaks of a fight between two wolves as a metaphor for the conflict inside each of us.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Tip #2: When we’re aware of negative thoughts and feelings about a situation, we can choose something different.
If we’re choosing to remain in a cycle of conflicting thoughts about our co-workers, we need to ask ourselves what we’re getting out of it. Some of the answers you’ll find in the characteristics of the first wolf. We’re nurturing our need to stay angry, envious, sorry, regretful, greedy, arrogant, guilty, resentful, inferior, dishonest, with low esteem, or above others with a big ego. But what are we getting out of it? This is a great contemplation if you’re stuck in such a cycle.
Tip #3: We need to feed ourselves with food for our mind and spirit that will fill our beings with the characteristics of the other wolf.
We need to do things where we find joy, peace, and love. We need to read about or find hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith in the circumstances that already surround us.
Although these tips don’t even begin to scratch the surface of shifting the conflict in the workplace, they do everything to shift how the conflict affects YOU. You don’t have to carry issues with you. You can feel joy, peace, love, hope etc. and still be angry with a circumstance that is unresolved. The real question is which approach do you feed the most?
What thoughts do you want to take home? Shower with and sleep with? Blessings for peace, no matter what the circumstances. With a peaceful mind, you can conquer all that needs your attention when the time is right.
Although the strategy is simple, it’s not easy. I’d be happy to help.
Dedicated to the employees at Pioneer Ridge in Thunder Bay, and the Alderville First Nations Health Centre, who inspired me to write this article and share with all of you.